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    Description

    Rare and Historic Engraved Second Model J.H. Dance and Brothers Confederate Dragoon Percussion Revolver Exhibited at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1942. Script engraved serial no. 164 [on butt, frame, barrel lug and cylinder, number stamped on top of loading lever], .44 caliber, 8-inch rifled octagonal barrel with front sight dovetailed at muzzle. Hammer with notch in front lip which functions as a rear sight. Six-shot cylinder. Steel frame made without cylinder recoil shields, a unique design feature of most Dance revolvers. Frame with unique engraved zig-zag border. Sides of hammer engraved with Masonic eye and arrow motifs. Case-hardened lever and frame. Brass triggerguard and gripstrap assembly. Rare one-piece beveled ebony grips inlaid with a last quarter moon Masonic emblem of German silver, a known symbol used by the Knights of the Golden Circle. This emblem symbolized the tearing down of an old structure to prepare the way for a new one, in this case, the regional collective belief in slavery that could not coexist with Union abolitionist policies. KGC members possessed a core level discontent with the existing federal government and wished to create a new country with a pro-slavery agenda. The quality and features of this revolver suggest the owner had affiliation with The Knights of the Golden Circle during the Civil War. Other examples such as serial no. 294 are also adorned with Masonic emblems. Only one other existing Dance is known to have been engraved, that being No. 172., and it is crudely "punch" engraved, probably after it left the factory. This rare revolver is sold together with an associated unmarked two-cavity steel bullet mold in .44 caliber, possibly made by the Dance company.

    The Knights of the Golden Circle, founded by George W. L. Bickley of Cincinnati, Ohio in 1854, originally promoted the invasion of Mexico and the West Indies with the idea of annexing these areas and extending American pro-slavery interests. These efforts failed and with the outbreak of the Civil War the organization shifted its aims to the support of the confederate government with many 'castles' or chapters created in Texas. At its zenith, there were 32 chapters of the KGC in Texas. Confederate Ranger Ben McCulloch led a group of confederate cavalry, 150 who were members of the KGC in a raid on the Union arsenal in San Antonio. Union general David Twiggs, a southern sympathizer, surrendered to the secessionists led by Captain Baylor and McCulloch rather than turn over the Alamo to his successor Carlos A. Waite. Twiggs was charged with treason. KGC members also figured in the temporary takeover of southern New Mexico in 1861; the burning of pro-Union Newspaper The Alamo Express and General H. H. Sibley's 1862 New Mexico Campaign to bring that state into the confederate fold.

    The Dance firm started manufacturing firearms in 1862 and modeled their revolvers after the famous Colt Dragoon. The men who worked for this company were granted exemption from military service by the state because the need for firearms was so great. The J.H. Dance & Brothers factory, located in East Columbia, Texas, manufactured firearms exclusively for the Confederate States government. In December 1863, the workshop was relocated farther inland to Anderson, Texas, far from the Brazos river for fear that General Nathaniel Banks' Union gunboats would bombard it. Only 325 to 500 revolvers were manufactured by this firm. The Dance factory did not have a consistent method for serializing their revolvers. There are two different guns with serial no. 164, this example and another with stamped numbers. There were also two serial no. 48 revolvers and examples marked only with initials [JB] and another marked only with a series of dots. This made almost every example unique in some way. After the Civil War, Owners of Dance revolvers continued to make history in Texas, not the least of whom was gunfighter Bill Longley who owned serial no. 4 and was known to have killed approximately 31 men [see Dance & Brothers: Texas Gunmakers of the Confederacy by Gary Wiggins].

    This rare Confederate revolver was included as part of the historic John E. Parsons exhibit of fine Colt and related percussion revolvers at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, February 4th, 1942 to May 3, 1942. It is depicted in plate 33, number 99 of that rare catalog. It is one of the finest Confederate revolvers in existence today.
    Condition: Very good to fine. Even, brown patina overall with scattered spots of light pitting. Blade of front sight and lower half of wedge screw missing. Safety pins on cylinder very good. Brass triggerguard and gripstrap assembly with mellow age patina. Grips with minor wear and marks but retaining varnish. Action crisp. Bullet mold with wear and brown patina.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2011
    18th Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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